Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Root of Woman

This post has accumulated slowly and simmered a little inside my head....


At work I am in a mostly male environment, however there is a little cluster of ladies of which I am a part. Not surprisingly there is sometimes a little banter. One term which has come up a few times over the last few months is witch. The connotation is always female, sometimes ugly, or old as well. Sometimes the witches are found in groups. They tend to be of some irritation to the men folk around... They don't know I am a witch.


As part of my aim to watch half of the best 250 films, I recorded and watched Rosemary's Baby. I knew nothing about the film before I watched it and so was a little surprised by what I found.

Obviously I was a little incensed by the way they confuse and muddle satanism and witches. The people in the film are obviously satanists. I have never met a satanist and I am not sure I would be overly fond of them if I did. but they are very different from witches, very, very.

As I watched the film it was increasing obvious that this was a film about the evils of separating a woman from her womanhood. Defiling a woman. Separating her from family and friends. Not allowing her contact with other women. Separating her from the world and her womanhood, taking away all her power.

So much insight and it just didn't sit right that a film that got so much right about what is (has / could) be done to women could be so wrong about witches. I think this 'mistake' was a sign of the times. A sign of what was acceptable.

The film may appear to be a horror about satanists but it is more than that - it is actually about the wrongs done to women.... At least I think so, what do you think?

I can't quite fathom the film, were they trying to highlight what is done to women or were they trying to cut women off from finding their sisters in witchiness?


It seems to me that the cultural associations of a witch are so much about putting women down. About not understanding her connection to her sisters, about making her conform, about making her a tool for the satisfaction of men, about taking her power, about making her a slave be it as wife or mother.

Men have taken this thing that is so much about feminine power and sisterhood and polluted it to stop women claiming it. I have claimed it but I don't publicly make that claim. I think my colleagues would be embarassed if they knew. I suspect it would also offend their feelings of male control and power.


And they do have feelings of male superiority, they just disguise them most of the time. Current situations at work have exposed, slightly, to me anyway, one colleagues difficulty in accepting women above him. He has a lady boss right now but now has the opportunity to stay in his job with a new boss, parallel to his old team or to become the boss of that parallel team, equal to his old lady boss.

He knows I was capable of applying for the boss job and that I didn't. I might even have stood a better chance of getting it than he does, who knows. I certainly am more academic and have way more qualifications. His attitude to me has subtly changed since this job was advertised. It has definitely changed towards our boss. i don't like it. I also don't entirely like what this reveals about this otherwise lovely chap....

Women are not equal. men still put us down. We have claimed equality on their terms. We need to claim equality of our own. The right to be women. The right to connect with our power. is this the next revolution in feminism?


  1. It was an interesting moment in films, when Rosemary's Baby was made. At that time (when was it? Mid '60's) witchcraft as it was practiced here was intensely ceremonial and very Gardnerian, all about the 'Lord and Lady'. I think the Goddess aspect of witchcraft didn't arise until the 1970's. I might be wrong about that.

    I remember the opening and bursting energy of that moment when feminism was spreading its wings. You can see if in so many films from that period. So interesting to look back on it from this vantage point.

    Sometime let's talk about satanism and witchcraft. Having been centrally involved in Reclaiming and Feri for so many years (I am now completely out of both trads) I do think there is a link, though not in the way it's portrayed in movies of course. I'm headed out for vacation, but maybe when I get back? You could email me if you like reyasdottir@verizon.net.

    I LOVE looking at all this purple!!

  2. Yes. It is the next evolution of the revolution. To begin defining life on our terms with our rules and what makes us real and true. Not by the standards and ways of the masculine energy.

    Both are vital, but very, very different.

    Nice post. Very nice post.

  3. I think so. You make some great points here....

    So much of what annoys me about 'feminism' is that it requires a separation from the feminine -- if that makes sense...and I'm not talking about frills and aprons and spatulas, I'm talking about the same power and sisterhood you refer to....the feminism that says in order to be *equal* to men, we have to be just like them -- well, I reject that wholeheartedly.

    I like very much the idea of claiming an equality that is on par, but significantly different, than men.

    And I know I've mentioned before that I truly do believe that the oppression/suppression of women is based on fear...fear of exactly how powerful we can be when we are connected to each other and to the Source...

    And with that, perhaps, I shall go and set my bra ablaze....*grin*


  4. No women are not equal to men in society today. The inequality has just become more covert. Women are not respected. I think women have done themselves a disservice by becoming radical feminists and denying their femininity, their innate womannes and becoming men in skirts. Women need to stop trying to become men and embrace their womanhood. I believe that women are way more powerful than men, that at some level men know it and are afraid of it. It makes me very sad that young women are allowing themselves to be exploited sexually by the music and movie industry, thinking that are being powerful by being sexual.
    Have you ever seen the movie Dangerous Beauty? It is one of my favourite movies. It is based on a true story about a Venetian courtesan. The woman in this movie has true power and I just love the ending. She was on trial to be executed as a witch.

    I haven't seen Rosemary's Baby so I can't comment on it. I probably haven't seen it because I thought it was a horror movie.

    I guess the witch burnings of Salem is still influencing us today as their is such a negative connotation around it. How we educate people that witches are not evil when the very word brings up fear and evil spells?

    My neighbour, who just moved away introduced me to a new writer for me: Barbara Erskine. Have you read her books? I think you would enjoy them. I just finished Lady of Hay. It's about a woman who is writing an article about past life regressions and allow herself to be regressed and ends up in ancient Wales. It was a good story.

    Thanks for another interesting and thought provoking post.

  5. Reya - I wasn't even really a twinkle in my parents eyes in the 60s so the roots and feelings of much of this arn't that clear to me really. I would love to hear more about the links between satanism and witchcraft. I view satanism as the other side of the coin to christianity but fundamentally part of the same belief system. The history of christianity is so much a part of my roots and history, just as much as witchiness...

    Holly - thank you! I think some of find it wasier to create our own rules than others. I am more of a follower than aleader really...

    Mel - I am not sure I would want to be entirely without bras although I wish I had a choice of when to wear the darn things! I remember walking to the shop and not having bothered to put one on. Unfortunately i lived in an Asian area at that time with strong Islamic tendencies and the way the men reacted made me so uncomfortable that I have never willingly gone without one since in public... (oh to be small and dainty) also when horse riding, I have managed to gain some pretty substansial bruises even with a bra... *laugh*

    Leone - I guess it was a horror but not like the modern horrors... I shall look out for Dangerous Beauty as well! I have read a couple of Barbara Erkskine and enjoyed them - I particularly remember enjoying one about a cruise in Eygpt... It is interesting to note the slightly different influences on each side of the Atlantic, for you Salem, for me the whole of the Burning Times and the Pendle Witches. I love the subtle differences that creep in. How we are the same but different in so many ways... *grin*

  6. You are totally rocking it here, hun! My head is too far up my own stuff today to make much sense, but you keep holding up that torch for women ... I'm with you 100% on what you've said here. I could get very passionate about it, and I have a well-worn soap-box to stand on if I choose.

    Lovely post. And thanks for your words of wisdom to me today.

    Biggest fat juicy blessings x

  7. What an interesting post. I would have to disagree a bit with Mel though (even though she is completely AWESOME)- there are certain forms of feminism that decry being "equal" to male power. This aspect of the feminist movement arose mostly from middle class white women as the "second wave". Although difficult and confrontational, bell hooks, a feminist writer, was one of the first to introduce Feminism as female power- black white, poor, rich, and not as a measure of traditional male success.
    Which is what we are coming into now- a more recent era where women have recognized that perhaps simply working and being paid equal to men (which we still aren't) wasn't right.. that traditional "female" jobs are spheres should be deemed just as important as "male" spheres.
    For some time now it hasn't been "third wave" but something beyond... and for myself, this is what feminism means- empowerment of all things female. :)

  8. Great post and great responses. I've been thinking about these issues for years and years (and years and years) - and don't have clarity. It has been wonderful, really, to have witnessed the rising consciousness of the late 1960s and 1970s, with the rediscovery of much of women's history, then the explorations into prehistory and Goddess cultures of the 1980s, the varied options for life choices and the growing (imperfect) presence of alternative gender expressions, lifestyles, careers, and all that make up a different landscape for many in the post-20th-century. But you are right, that the basic conditions of gender relations and power relations haven't changed a ton for most people, and "women's values" (caring, nurturing, life-affirming) are far from being the core values of late-industrial society. Still - this blogging dialogue is a witness that there is a swelling and joining and remembering and hoping going on that can't be turned aside, that will bear fruit.